Cloudastramus 2014 Predictions

Much awaited predictions by highly-respected Cloudstramus for 2014. These have been arrived by analyzing the current position of stars, reading lot of press releases, tweets, blogs and listening to bullshit artists.

1. PAAS will get absorbed by IAAS vendors

PAAS is not shaping up to be an independent market segment and this will lead to non adoption, and increasingly PAAS vendors will look to IAAS as an anchor to get customer adoption.  At the same time, IAAS vendors need to show innovation and they will embrace PAAS to show that. We will see more M&A activity.

2. IAAS as an on-prem option will get a reality check and complexity and frustrations of this option will make IT avoid on-prem IAAS like plague.

Complex upgrades, lack of enterprise capabilities and lack of expertise around on-prem IAAS would result in many more failed projects and word will get around that on-prem IAAS is not a viable option.

3. OpenStack Foundation will get dissolved and a new self-organized group will form that will provide stronger leadership and vision.

Despite having well intentioned and good people in the Foundation, vendors like Oracle, IBM and others will try to derail any potential progress the Foundation can make. Out of frustration, some of the passionate OpenStack folks will come out and form a new group to rescue OpenStack from the clutches of these companies.

4. GCE will mount serious marketing and product challenge to AWS – AWS will start losing some market share.

Early success stories will start emerging in mid 2014 and Google will launch massive marketing and product challenge to AWS. Due to confusion around AWS enterprise pricing and some mis hits, AWS will start losing some market share to GCE.

5. Excitement around Containers will subside and world will start viewing them as another option, not the only option.

Container fanboys will get a reality check and realize that while it is a good option, it is not the only viable option. The unbelievable claims like the computer the size of Internet will start getting challenged more broadly. Containers are here to stay, but as an important component of overall Cloud infrastructure.

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PAAS is a figment of (y)our imagination

I admit failure and thats a hard thing to do given my ego.

I started exploring PAAS and said, may be I can help explain this. After some effort, I give up. I question the existence of PAAS as a product category. It just does not exist – it is a figment of (y)our imagination.

Everybody is confused about PAAS. The vendors seem to fight a lot as well. Initially I thought it was due to their competitive nature. I am starting to think its because even they are confused about what problem they are trying to solve and if their product is even relevant. I suspect the anger is a result of their fears. 

PAAS as a market segment is like putting cart before the horse. It is vendors trying to package bunch of stuff and call it a PAAS. Now, each of these offerings provide different value for customers that take time to understand them and find value in using them. It would be a mistake to lump them all together and call it a category for now. It would be a category as broad as ‘moving vehicles’ that may include bicycles, cars, earth moving equipment, trucks etc. 

Current “PAAS” products are amalgamation of developer tools and services that a vendor can get their hands on. It often include various language run-times, IDEs, monitoring and debugging tools, APIs etc. 

For a taste of difference between different PAAS solutions, I listed 3 of the ones that list services offered by them below ( in Alphabetical order ). 

Note: Would have loved to include OpenShift, but what services OpenShift provides is a mystery to me and their website is impossible to use, so going to ignore it for now. 

Apprenda

Service Broker
API based Transaction Metering
Distributed Cache
Federated Authentication with Enterprise Systems
Multi-tenant Queue
Service Catalog
End User On boarding / Provisioning
Entitlement Definitions
App Deployment Policies
Application Inventory
Application Lifecycle Management
Self Service Dev Portal
Self Service IT Portal
Centralized Logging/Auditing
Chargeback/Showback
System Center Integration
Infrastructure Tagging
Load Distribution and HA
Resource Policies
REST APis & CLI
Extensible Cloud Application Services
Custom Workflow Extensions
Multi-tenancy Enablement

CloudFoundry

Lifecycle API
Dynamic Routing
Buildpacks
Data and Webservice Brokers
Linux Container Management
Role based access
app health management
user authentication and authorization
Realtime logging API

Salesforce1

Workflow and approval engine
Point & click development
Multi-language development
Real-time data feeds
Chatter
Tools and APIs for professional developers
Mobile Services & SDK
Sharing and user access controls
Identity management
Reporting and dashboards
Salesforce Identity
Salesforce Private AppExchange

Tell me how much similarity do you find between these ?.  There are some common components, but it feels all over the map. 

So, what does this means. So, the questions you should be asking yourself are the following:

1. Do I need app services when building and deploying a cloud application?
2. Which services do I need for this application?
3. Which vendor provides these services – is it CloudFoundry, Salesforce1 or Apprenda or Microsoft Azure or someone else?

However, if you want to end in a zone of endless frustration, ask the following questions:

1. Do I need a PAAS ?
2. Which PAAS vendor is the best?
3. Which PAAS vendor has most traction?

ps: Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater – the lack of a clear market segment definition or similarities between these products, I do believe they serve a purpose and if you have a need for them, you should absolutely consider using them. They will deliver value from what I understand from early adopters. 

Hope you find this argument helpful. As always, agree / disagree with me here or on twitterz…

 

Notes on Disruption

The reason for this post is not to establish any specific point, but is just notes of what I am observing. I may come back and add more to this.

Technology disruption is a beautiful thing. It affects us in a positive way. More important is the technology disruption that affects our physical lives. For ex: not having to drive to a store in treacherous winter weather to buy a shirt, and instead login into a website and order it right from there. Would we shed a tear or two if JC Penny were to go bankrupt? Not really.

Some benefits of disruption are:

1. Convenience for consumer
2. Lower prices
3. More efficient system by eliminating the middlemen.
4. Freeing of resources to invest into newer things.

We all have heard of some disruptions and have talked about them at length. Below are some industries that are getting disrupted or will get disrupted soon.

1. Retail

Book sellers such as Barnes and Noble disrupted by Amazon. Retail traffic during holiday shopping season is slowly reducing and shifting to online commerce.

2. Media

Well known disruption of movie rental business Blockbuster by Netflix. However, second disruption is happening,  In media industry, the established players are content providers and content distributors. What if content distributors also become content providers? Could this drive out inefficiencies in the system. For ex: if HBO produced ‘House of Cards’, how much money would have been wasted by content distributors in licensing it, holding a premium on it, selling advertising on it?. Because Netflix produced it, they can distribute it without having to sell advertisement. Consumer wins. I expect this trend to continue and content providers like HBO will head the way of BlockBuster. Secondly, the pure content distributors will also get disrupted, because their model is based on an assumed dependency on content providers.

3. Real-estate

Realtors may be the biggest middlemen when it comes to inefficiencies. For minimal work, in each house transaction, approximately 5% of the house value disappears into these middlemen through commissions. What RedFin is doing here is interesting, and this model ( actually a better version of it) will end up disrupting the Realtor business.

4. Lending

If you had applied for mortgage or other large loans, you have experienced what may be the most inefficient system in the world. Not just the process, but the fees ( Why do you have to pay for a Fedex charge for loan company to send some docs to title company – haven’t they heard of email ? ).  I am not aware of any startup actively disrupting this, but this is likely to happen within next decade.

5. Healthcare

When we talk about healthcare, we think much hated Insurance companies. Yes, they are ineffective and needs to be disrupted. Also, there is a second middleman – this is the hospital operators. The largest hospital operators build facilities, and rent it for health care providers. If you had ever spent time at hospital, you know the pain of dealing with them. What a mobile app can do more efficiently, hospital operators have multiple employees trying to do using outdated systems. This is an area ripe for disruption. I am not yet aware of startups in this area yet, but I expect this disruption to happen in next 15 years.

6. Auto Sales

Dealers are the middlemen here and have a huge mark up. What Tesla is doing with company owned showrooms is a good first step disruption, but what I believe is the more powerful disruption is going to be an online product configurator and direct ship to consumers. I am sure there are already companies trying to do this, but I am not yet well informed in this.

7. Education

This is already happening to some extent. Online education will make it less important to go to actual campuses. The concept of education with multi-year degree programs will become an outdated concept in our lifetime. Another example – kids these days study together by watching Khan Academy videos. This could disrupt the tutor business of Sylvan Learning etc.

8. Pharma

Legalization of marijuana is an interesting trend when looked at medical uses. It may be better alternative to pain medications in some instances and given the risk of pain medications, people may prefer marijuana. As more and more states start to legalize pot, we could start seeing a hit on pharma company profits.

I am sure there are many more areas where disruption is happening. Please add your comments below.

Exploring Platform as a Service (PAAS) … part 1 of n

There is lot of noise on PAAS options currently. There are strong arguments and disagreements and mud slinging.  I wanted to take a stab at understanding the basics first and then a way to compare these vendors. This is part 1 of the series. Comments Welcome.

Who are the contenders?

What follows is each contender and a marketing description taken from their webpage. Also highlighted the programming languages they support. While programming language is not the only thing that matters, it does give a glimpse into which group of developers the vendors are targeting.

(Side Note: Looking for short description of what the platform is reveals some insights – Google, Microsoft do a good job, SalesForce1 is pretty fluffy.  CF Hosted and OpenShift are decent once you get through the front page fluff ).

  • Google App Engine

Google App Engine lets you run web applications on Google’s infrastructure. App Engine applications are easy to build, easy to maintain, and easy to scale as your traffic and data storage needs grow. With App Engine, there are no servers to maintain: You just upload your application, and it’s ready to serve your users.

Supports Python, Java, PHP ( Preview ), Go ( Experimental )

  •   Microsoft Azure

Windows Azure is Microsoft’s application platform for the public cloud. You can use this platform in many different ways. For instance, you can use Windows Azure to build a web application that runs and stores its data in Windows Azure data centers.

Supports ASP.NET, PHP, Node.js, Python and Classic ASP.

  • SalesForce1

With complete and open APIs, developers can build the next generation of apps today. Mobile-ready and more accessible, it’s the fastest way to connect anything to everything. And sell, service, and market on any device. Everywhere.

APEX, VisualForce and all that confusing jazz.

  • Redhat OpenShift Online

OpenShift Online is Red Hat’s public cloud application development and hosting platform that automates the provisioning, management and scaling of applications so that you can focus on writing the code for your business, startup, or next big idea.

Programming languages including Java, Ruby, PHP, Node.js, Python and Perl

  • Pivotal CF Hosted

Pivotal CF Hosted is a public instance of Cloud Foundry operated by Pivotal at run.pivotal.io .

It supports the JVM based languages Java, Scala, and Groovy, as well as Ruby and node.js. Supported frameworks include Spring and Play for Java, Lift for Scala, Grails for Groovy, and Rails and Sinatra for Ruby. It supports Postgres, RabbitMQ, MongoDB, MySQL and Redis through the Pivotal CF Marketplace.

  • SAP HANA

The industry’s only in-memory cloud platform. Built on SAP HANA with comprehensive application and database services, this full featured, open standards based platform enables the real time applications required to succeed in today’s always-on, mobile, social and data driven world.

I am guessing they are focused on ABAP and bit of Java. The website makes it nearly impossible to navigate.

  •  IBM

Limited. More like Hosted SAP and Oracle environments. Not going to include it for now, but it is shocking that self-proclaimed cloud leader does not yet have a PAAS strategy figured out.

  • Oracle

The Oracle Cloud Platform (also known as Platform as a Service or PaaS) provides a shared and elastically scalable platform for consolidation of existing applications and new application development and deployment.

Fusion middleware and Java focused.

  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk

AWS Elastic Beanstalk is an easy-to-use service for deploying and scaling web applications and services developed with popular programming languages such as Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python and Ruby. You simply upload your application and Elastic Beanstalk automatically handles the deployment details of capacity provisioning, load balancing, auto-scaling and application health monitoring.

  • EngineYard

At Engine Yard, PaaS combines a development platform, computing resources, deployment infrastructure and managed hosting services, so you can reduce the cost, time and complexity of application development.

Ruby on Rails, PhP and Node.js focused

  • CloudBees

The CloudBees Platform as a Service (PaaS) architecture provides a powerful foundation for cloud development and deployment services.

Java focused

  • CenturyLinkCloud ( Tier 3 )

Built on Cloud Foundry & Iron Foundry. Cloud Foundry Core compatible.

Supports .NET, Java, PHP, Ruby, Python, Node.js, and more.

Observations:

Observation 1: Success of PAAS is dependent on App Developer adoption. Applications are what will drive adoption of PAAS.

Observation 2: PAAS by itself will not create a new developer segment, but will tap into existing dev ecosystems.

Observation 3: Enterprise developers are a larger group than just Github users, so we need to look beyond the “hot” languages for predicting long term developer adoption of a PAAS.

Observation 4: Enterprise app developers will look to those PAAS options that are proven. App dev teams will also lean towards those PAAS solutions that support the languages they are already using and have expertise in. For ex, ASP.Net does matter, despite GitHub numbers.

Organization:

Based on these observations, we can organize various PAAS offerings into a quadrant.

The X axis is Enterprise Credibility.
The Y Axis is Dev Ecosystem.

Enterprise Credibility – the platform has been adopted by several enterprises already or the vendor has already built highly scalable apps thats are used by enterprises ( for ex: Azure, SalesForce1, EngineYard )

Dev Ecosystem – the PAAS fits naturally into a developer ecosystem ( for ex: Azure and ASP.Net, CF Hosted and Spring )

Next Steps:

I will rank each PAAS against the identified X and Y axis over next few weeks and build a quadrant.

Meanwhile, do you have suggestions or disagree with this approach?.

I do not believe at the end of this exercise, I  get a classification of PAAS contenders, but just one way to look at them (Hopefully helps separate noise from signal).

Let me know your thoughts either via twitter or in comments below.

2014 Predictions that are Guaranteed to be True.

We at c-cloud social media department are happy to issue v1.0 of the famous “2014 Predictions” – we stand behind them. If any of them do not come true, we shall be renamed from c-cloud to cloud-cloud. This is a public challenge our department is issuing.  These predictions are based on painstaking research and careful review by an independent third party ( our friendly bartender ) for accuracy.  Ladies and Gentlemen, here are the top 10 predictions:

 

  1. There will be a minimum of 3 separate instances where OpenStack AWS Interop will be discussed on twitter
  2. There will be at least 2 public fights between CF and OpenShift
  3. IBM will talk about how it is dominating the Cloud computing – not one person outside Raleigh would believe it.
  4. VMware will have a conference for its partners – many of us will scratch our heads again after that conference
  5. RAX viability will again be questioned by people who can’t even read their grocery bill and understand it
  6. Oracle will again highlight the laziness of its salesforce
  7. HP will announce that they are the leading provider of Cloud with known issues.
  8. There will be people tweeting ‘Coffee’ every month in 2014
  9. Atleast 10 people will salivate over how NetFlix is using AWS
  10. Box will raise money again

Signed,  The Futurists of the C-Cloud Social Media Department.

Five questions for GCE team

So, we at the c-cloud social media department have some questions for the newly GA Google Cloud (GCE ).

  1. To what extent will you keep infrastructure independent of your Google+ push?
  2. To what extent will you insert your Ads into our app stream when executing on GCE?
  3. Can you guarantee that you will not exit this business in next 5 years?
  4. Would you be mining our customer transactions to gain advertising insights?
  5. Would you be providing batch updates of our customer data to NSA? What measures are you taking to protect our and our customer data?

ps: In case you didn’t know. This is a parody account :). ( Lest, someone uses these in a real presentation ).

 

UPDATE: Not sure why commenting is not allowed on this post, but someone from GCE team replied on twitter 

5 Answers: 1. Independent. 2. none 3. yes 4. no 5. no see http://goo.gl/xa8EjY